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Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Published: 20 December 2021

Another year has passed and 2021 is coming to an end, and with it our 50th anniversary year. It has been a year when we have reflected on the time that has passed and how our university has grown and developed, but also a year when we have thought about how we can continue to evolve.

It is incredible to imagine that in 50 years we have gone from 50 to over 17,000 students, from a handful of academics to over 1000 researchers, teachers and doctoral students and from one research subject to close to 70. We have also developed into a national and internationally recognized university with research that drives the theoretical development forward and creates benefit in society while our students are responsible and enterprising citizens and community builders.

Vision 2020, and the visions that preceded it, have strengthened us as a university and laid the foundation for a university that increasingly delivers innovative education and groundbreaking research results for attractive and sustainable societies, including a green industrial transformation. A university that takes its starting point in the Arctic region and contributes to global societal benefits.

Our strong research and innovation areas from Vision 2020 strengthened important areas while creating new and exciting interdisciplinary collaborations.
Our previous educational initiatives from Vision 2020, PUF and NUF, have increased the level of knowledge and awareness of our teachers, and started important change processes that mean that in 2030 we will have a much stronger educational offer that is even more innovative, attractive and relevant.

Three events to highlight in particular

It is difficult to sum up a year, let alone 50 years, within a blog post, but if I am to highlight some things that I think have really shaped our university, I want to repeat the three events that I also referred to in my academic keynote address.

The first is the assignment we received from the Swedish parliament in 1971, at the start of our university, namely to secure important knowledge and skills for the basic industry in the north. From the beginning, this task created a culture based on regional responsibility, global cooperation projects and the importance of our activities and our work creating societal benefits. An assignment that today is more important than ever in view of the green social transformation we are facing and the major investments that are taking place in Norrbotten and Skellefteå.

The second is the cohesion and the feeling of closeness that was created when our first 50 students and 10 teachers every day took the same bus to and from Porsön, and together built a university, more or less located in the forest, outside Luleå center. A cohesion and closeness that today includes our 17,000 students and 1,800 employees from 60-80 different countries, as well as our external partners. Even today, closeness, together with courage and trust, is one of three values we choose to focus on in our new vision.

A third of Sweden's area

The third is the journey from a technical college to a technical university that was made possible and accelerated by the incorporation of teacher education in 1977 and the Academy of Music in 1978, the start of Sweden's fourth Theater Academy in 1996 and the incorporation of the Nursing College in 1999. Not to mention our geographical expansion from one to four campuses, which means that we are a university that covers Sweden's two largest regions and spans over one third of Sweden's total area.
Without this broadening of our education and research, we would not be the university we are today.

In addition to our own jubilee, I would also like to highlight another important celebration that took place in 2021, and which was the starting point for the university's anniversary celebration, namely 100 years of democracy with women's and universal suffrage. Democracy, equality, gender equality and academic freedom are something we must constantly fight to maintain. As a university, we have a great responsibility and an important role to play. As Vice-Chancellor, I want all of us, employees and students, to think about how we can contribute to maintaining and developing these cultural carriers based on our various functions and roles.

I look forward to 2022 and everything we will achieve to further strengthen our university and the global community of which we are a part.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn, Vice-Chancellor of Luleå University of Technology

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